Major British Oil Spills at
Information about the
largest of the British Oil Tanker disasters in British and nearby seas
recorded by the British Marine Life Study Society.
Tanker disasters: Torrey Canyon (1967), Amoco Cadiz (1978), Braer (1993),
Sea Empress (1996), Erika (1999).
Smaller spills: Universe
Leader (1974), Olympic Alliance (1975), Pacific Colocotronia (1975), Eleni
V (1978), Esso Bernicia (1978), Christos Bitas (1978), Tanio (1980), Sivand
(1983), Orleans (1986).
Oil Tanker Disasters
Full Report is on Kevin Osborne's SHETLAND ISLES WILDLIFE SITE. Please
request link if not discovered. Shetland
News Web Site.
The Sea Empress oil tanker disaster
in south-west Wales during February 1996, when 71,800 tonnes of crude oil
plus 480 tonnes of heavy fuel oil were spilled into the rich marine wildlife
area of the Bristol Channel and Milford Haven, was explored in detail as
a major feature in the Vernal/Summer
1996 issue of the BMLSS journal Glaucus.
A study of the harmful effects
of oil spills was undertaken after the Braer disaster in the Vernal 1993
issue of Glaucus.
of Oil Pollution on the Shore
Independent research by Andy
Horton of the British Marine Life Study Society
drew conclusions about the effects of oil pollution on the shore and in
shallow seas. The results were arrived at in a series of articles in Glaucus,
mostly since the Braer Disaster in 1993. These conclusions differ from
the Friends of the Earth Reports. However, they do concur almost exactly
with Mike Camplin's Report for the Devon Wildlife Trust published in 1993,
but concluded years before this. As Mike Camplin's Summary is concise and
clear it is repeated below:
Exposed sand and shingle beaches
are generally self-cleaning since there are large movements of the substrate
band, and because they are not biologically rich, they are best left uncleaned.
Exposed rocky shores generally
have solid rock and large boulder substrates and are generally self cleaning.
In addition the animals forming the communities living there are adapted
to ragged conditions in a variety of ways. They recover quickly from major
damage, mostly by recruitment of new organisms from outside. They are best
left uncleaned. Recovery usually takes 3-4 years.
Sheltered rocky shores are not
self cleaning habitats and are slow to recover from major damage. They
may require the removal of as much oil as possible but dispersants are
best avoided. Public pressure may demand a clean-up despite the damage
caused. Recovery usually takes about 5-10 years.
Sheltered sands and silts are
not self cleaning and are difficult to tackle. They are biologically rich
and are best protected as far as possible using booms.
References: Papers from the
National Federation for Biological Recording Conference 1993: Crises and
The British Marine Life Study
Society and English Nature hold many other references, far too numerous
to be listed on this site.
Addenda: It is important that
each beach should be assessed for the likely effects of large scale oil
pollution, because local conditions can vary and the above statements are
generalisations. There are also rare species on British shores, and some
of these have slow recruitment rates. (Andy Horton).
Esso Bernicia (Shetland
Isles, 1978): This damaging oil spill of only 1200 tonnes of the more harmful
fuel oil occured after a collision with the ship against the mooring jetty.
700 tonnes of heavy oil spilled into Sullom Voe, with strong currents rapidly
dispersing the oil around the other islands, causing a heavy mortality
of rare breeding birds like Great Northern Divers. Even 20 years later
the breeding populations of sea birds in Sullom Voe have not recovered.
This spill resulted in the establishment of a specialised work force dedicated
to clearing up and containing any future spillages.
The measurement of quantities
used is one tonne of crude oil that is roughly equal to 308 US gallons,
or 7.33 barrels. Or 256 UK gallons, or 7.12 barrels.
Marine Life Study Society Home Page *
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Tanker Spills: Oiled Birds Count
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Pollution on Rocky Shores
Spills Guide (Links)
University Oil Spill Pages
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Tel: 07771 862571